Angmering Horticultural Club.

Meetings and Activities

July 2024 - Sweetpeas.

About 20 people attended to listen to Richard Barron tell us his secrets to growing successful sweet peas. His father first showed him how to grow them aged 10 and he continued, not least, because his wife loves sweet peas. Sweet peas remain a favourite annual for many people.

Richard's 2 principles of growing successful sweet peas are food and water - and plenty of both. There are 3 types of sweet pea: Spencer (which originate from the Spencer estate of Althorp), Grandiflora (a smaller, highly scented variety) and Old Fashioned (from the original 18th century varieties)..

Photograph of sweetpeas.

Perennial sweet peas are not scented. There are also miniatures, not so common but can be grown in a pot, and dwarf varieties which are easy to grow but not scented. Seeds are often sown in October and overwintered prior to planting out a good strong seedling in spring. However, the effects of climate change means much warmer winters and Richard now has more success sowing seeds in January as they produce a much stronger seedling. Sowing into poly pots individually produces the best results and means less disturbance of roots when planting out. Plants are best grown in a circle of canes, along a wall or on a framework of canes in rows. The traditional method was to dig a trench to plant seedlings into but Richard now uses the 'no dig' method and lays thick compost onto the bed, covers this with cardboard and then seaweed. Over winter this breaks down and is ideal for growing strong healthy plants, retaining moisture and feeding the plants.

There are, of course, various pests and diseases to contend with, not least slugs, snails, mice, birds, all of which will nibble at young plants. Mildew, leaf miner and yellowing leaves are all hard to avoid - as with all gardening, it is a constant battle. However, all agreed that the resulting, sweet scented flowers are well worth the effort.

Richard had a few beautiful bunches to sell in aid of our funds and was happy to distribute copies of the growing guides that he uses.

June 2024 - Keeping chickens.

As the speaker booked for our June meeting had to cancel, Lou a local lady who keeps chickens kindly came along to speak to us. Lou has kept chickens for 40 years and is a judge at shows. She is a member of the Poultry Club of Great Britain so she has her own unique poultry holding number which is displayed on the rings she uses for her birds. Although born in Sussex she had a small holding on Exmoor for some years before returning to Sussex.

There are over 1600 breeds of chicken and Lou brought three of her bantams along to the meeting. Poppy sat happily on the table eating her feed while Lou explained what was involved in rearing and keeping chickens in her garden. She also informed us of the duties required of a judge at shows.

Photo of Poppy the bantam chicken with her food.

Not surprisingly, there was much interest from the attendees and there was a lively question and answer session at the end of Lou’s talk.

Logo of the Poultry Club of Great Britain.

May 2024 - A visit to Ramster Gardens.

On the 20th May members enjoyed a group visit to Ramster Gardens, near Chiddingfold, Surrey. It was a glorious day and the visitors were free to wander along the paths and admire the beautiful trees and shrubs.

The gardens, which are approximately 25 acres in size, were first laid out in 1890 by Gauntletts of Chiddingfold who were interested in Japanese plants and ornaments. In 1922 Sir Henry and Lady Norman, great grandparents of the current owners, bought Ramster and added greatly to the gardens. They are renowned for their spring display of rhododendrons and azaleas (of which there are over 300 varieties) and for the foliage from ancient acers, liquidambar and cornus in the autumn. There are also ponds, a stream and wild flower areas as well as many sculptures to view.

Highlights of the visit included seeing a magnificent handkerchief tree and a buttercup meadow.

Having explored the wonderful gardens, members sampled the delights of the food that was on offer in the tea room which included smoked salmon sandwiches and bacon sandwiches. A good time was had by all.

April 2024 - Dahlias.

At our April meeting Richard Ramsey and his wife, Hazel, came along to tell us about growing dahlias. They run Withypitts Nursery at Turners Hill, Crawley and Richard has been involved with dahlias for over 70 years and began by telling us how he started off with a 3/4 acre plot. They became a limited company in 2012.

Originating in Mexico and South America as single type dahlias Richard informed us that plants were originally sent to Spain and hybridised. Today there are several types of dahlias including ‘pompoms' (first developed in Germany) and ‘anemones’. There is also a size classification from ‘giant’ to ‘pompom’.

Photo of a pruple dahlia.

Richard went on to show the difference between growing the plants from tubers and growing from cuttings. Having brought along some tubers and cuttings he showed us how to propagate these plants and then how and when to plant out. He then explained how to successfully grow and maintain the plants during the season and also how to care for the cut flowers in vases.

Finally, he demonstrating how the tubers should be lifted and stored over the winter period. Following a question and answer session members were able to purchase some plants that Richard and Hazel had brought along to the meeting. Hopefully members who did not grow dahlias were inspired to do so.

Photo of a red and yellow dahlia.

March 2024 - The Role of the Plant Quarantine Service.

Andrew Gaunt is a Plant Health Inspector who works in Sussex for DEFRA. He came along to our March meeting to talk to us about the role of the Plant Quarantine Service. Armed with fascinating and eye-opening facts and figures he described his day-to-day job of fighting plant and tree pests and diseases.

He has six main areas of work: inspections at airports, inspections at docks, plant certification for export, growing season inspections, the plant passport scheme (relating to retail and mail order plants) and visits to nurseries, farms and waste disposal sites. Should a disease get a hold, Andrew works to eradicate the problem by treating, spraying or burning. The methods of testing, Andrew informed us, were advancing quickly ie. bio-sensors, genome testing, lateral flow testing etc.

Photograph of Andrew Gaunt.

One of Andrew’s slides listed the major pests and diseases, including xylella fastidiosa and tobacco white fly, some of which have been found in Sussex and explained how devastating they can be. He explained how some of these pests and diseases had arrived in the UK and named some of the plants and trees ie. viburnum, camellia, rhododendron and heather which have been attacked by disease locally.

Andrew had bought along some specimens of pests for everyone to look at. These included the Colorado beetle.

He encouraged everyone to get involved with ‘Observatree’ to monitor tree health, via the UK Plant Health Portal.

Defra logo.

February 2024 - The Workings of the NGS.

Philip Duly was the speaker for our first meeting of 2024 and he gave us a talk on the Workings of the NGS (National Garden Scheme).

He divided his talk into five key sections: A potted history of the NGS, the NGS in West Sussex, the NGS nationally, West Sussex gardens and NGS gardens in general.

The scheme was originally set up in 1927 when Elsie Wagg came up with the idea for raising money to support district nurses. There are now approximately 3,500 gardens nationwide included in the scheme, raising millions of pounds every year for a variety of charities which include McMillan Nurses, Marie Curie and the Queens Nursing Institute. In 2023 a record 3.4 million pounds was donated by the NGS. A full list of the donations made to charities can be found on the NGS website.

Garden at Sandhills Farm House.

The head office of the NGS is at Hatchlands Park near Guildford where a staff of 12 provide support for the volunteers (approximately 550), produce the ‘yellow book’, manage the website, support and train gardeners, seek sponsorship and deal with accounting and auditing as well as liaising with volunteers and charities. Philip joined the NGS in 2017 and explained his role as West Sussex Treasurer. His biggest challenge, he said, is the need to find new gardens to replace those that close for one reason or another and encouraged our members to open their gardens or seek out those worthy of being included in the scheme, at the same time insisting that these do not have to be ‘perfect’.

Being early in the year, Philip suggested a few gardens, nationally and locally, where a good display of snowdrops could be seen and suggested we might like to visit some of them.

Old Vic snowdrops.

Philip was an excellent speaker and his talk was interesting and illuminating and hopefully he will return to the Club in the not too distant future to give us a talk and a slide show on some of the actual NGS gardens.

NGS logo.

December 2023 - Christmas Themed Arrangements.

At our last meeting of the year Dee Watkins of Seed2Design was our guest speaker.

Dee Watkins of Seed2Design

Whilst producing three beautiful arrangements using natural materials such as red dogwood, beech leaves, blue spruce, hips, pinus, roses and tulips, in a style known as Vegetative, Dee talked enthusiastically about the changes she has made to become environmentally friendly. She no longer uses oasis, which is harmful to the environment, instead opting for Agra wool which is bio-degradable. The frames she uses are also either bio-degradable or recyclable plastic.

Natural plant arrangement photo 1.

Dee admitted she was on a mission to reduce the impact that sympathy tributes have on the environment. She regularly visits local crematoriums to salvage materials that can be recycled. The amount of material that is put into landfill skips was eye-opening.

When Dee had completed her lovely arrangements they were raffled, so three lucky members were able to take them home.

The evening ended with some Christmas fare and hopefully everyone was inspired by Dee’s imaginative and very enjoyable demonstration..

Natural plant arrangement photo 2.

November 2023 - Mark Dobell of Mynthurst Farm.

Mark Dobell was Head Gardener at Mynthurst Farm, Surrey for over twenty years and came along to tell us about his time there and the various projects that he undertook.

The 500 year old house had a nine acre garden set within its estate and included a 48 metre long rose bed, a walled garden, a spring garden, a kitchen garden and a swimming pool area. When Mark took over as Head Gardener, having originally been employed as an under gardener, he faced many challenges to get the garden back ‘on track’.

View of Mynthurst Farm house.

In October 1993 the estate was sold to Mr and Mrs Chilton and several projects were proposed including the redefining of the lake, the dismantling of a 117ft greenhouse and replacing it with a new one which had separate temperature controlled sections for peaches, nectarines, tomatoes, orchids etc. and a new parterre. Mark’s slide show produced images of how all these projects were managed and completed. Mark also explained how he made the switch to gardening organically, without the use of chemicals.

Unfortunately the estate has since been sold again and Mark now runs his own business.

Sunrise over the lake.

October - Annual General Meeting.

The Club’s AGM was held on the 2nd October in the Angmering Baptist Church Hall. Lesley (our Chairlady) welcomed everyone to the meeting and distributed what she thought was a good programme for the year to come. She apologised for the fact that the membership fees had to be increased due to rises in the cost of hiring the hall and speakers.

Everyone was given a copy of the audited Accounts by the Treasurer who explained the Income and Expenditure figures. There were no queries.

All committee members were prepared to stand again and as there were no other nominations, the committee was re-elected ‘en bloc’.

After the AGM there was a Plant Identification Quiz. A box of chocolates was awarded to the winners. There followed a raffle and a buffet..

September - Gardening for Drought.

At our September meeting Amanda Colberg, a local garden designer, gave us a talk entitled Gardening with Drought. She started her talk with a brief history of garden design and how it was influenced. However the weather of our youth was more predictable than now and we need to be prepared for gardening in drought. Moisture retention can be improved either organically or non-organically and Amanda explained the various options which included the use of well rotted animal manure, soil conditioner compost, leaf mould, bark chippings, porous membrane, slate, glass nuggets, cobbles etc.

Photo of Amanda Colberg.

Amanda advised watering plants in the early morning or evening and suggested the use of water butts (which could be linked if there were insufficient downpipes), recycling domestic water, placing plant containers together to create a microclimate and reducing the size of a lawn.

Amanda also suggested some plants that would be suitable to grow in drought conditions and these included cistus, rosemary, thyme, lavender, red hot pokers and salvias.

Garden photo.

Amanda’s talk was very timely due to hot and dry weather currently being experienced.

August 2023 - Crosslands Nursery.

On Monday 7th August a group of members went to Warburton to visit Crosslands Flower Nursery. The trip was arranged following a talk that Ben Cross gave to the Horticultural Club last November.

The nursery grows alstroemerias commercially for the cut flower market. On arrival, Ben refreshed our memories on the origins of his business which was started after the Land Settlement Association (LSA), a government scheme, was introduced in 1934. Ben’s great grandfather set up a nursery in Sidlesham which moved to Warburton in 1957.

Ben in the greenhouse.

Ben took us into one of the greenhouses where rows of alstroemerias were growing in beds one metre wide by 30 metres long and explained the day-to-day work of growing the flowers sustainably.

Ben in the sorting and packing shed.

He showed us the low-level and economically run heating and watering systems and informed us that no pesticides and chemical sprays were used. We were then taken to see the boiler which is fuelled by wood pellets before heading to the shed where the picked flowers are sorted and packaged and then placed in cool storage. The nursery prides itself in getting the flowers from soil to storage in under five minutes

After the very interesting tour, members had the opportunity to purchase bunches of alstroemerias to take home with them.

Flower arrangement.

July 2023 - Sussex Gardens Trust.

The speaker for our July meeting was Sally Ingram, a volunteer with the Sussex Gardens Trust, which is affiliated to the National Gardens Trust. Formed in 1995 the Trust was set up to Promote, Research and Protect the wide variety of historic gardens in Sussex, for future generations. Gardens of national significance are recorded by Historic England but the SGT is more interested in local parks and gardens, and works to ensure that their significance is recognised. Their involvement in the planning process means that many parks and gardens can be saved when new developments are proposed.

The Trust also runs an extensive series of lectures, plans visits to gardens (often at times when gardens are not open to the public) and has a Small Grants Scheme which assists owners and community groups to enable them to carry out projects for which no other funds are available. Most lectures now take place on Zoom which enables many more people to take part. Garden visits are renowned for the quality of the tea and cakes on offer!

A major part of the Trust’s work is research and they have published several books including works on Capability Brown, Humphrey Repton and most recently, Gertrude Jekyll. Sally was justifiably proud of this recent publication which includes new research about Gertrude’s numerous commissions in Sussex, amongst which was the King Edward V11 Sanatorium in Midhurst. Previous biographies have been somewhat dismissive of Gertrude’s work, concentrating more on her looks and personality – not always favourably. But this new work celebrates a strong, independent woman, ahead of her time in many ways.

Sally was an excellent speaker and spoke passionately about a very interesting subject.

June 2023 - Parham House.

As the proposed speaker, Lyndy, who works at Parham House was indisposed, Lesley Chamberlain kindly stepped in to talk to us about the house and gardens. Lesley is a guide for the house tours and gave us a potted history of the house and estate.

Photo of the front view of Parham House.

The original owners were the monks of Westminster but during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries the land was granted to Robert Palmer of Henfield. His grandson, Thomas, eventually sold Parham, which was by then in a very poor state, to Thomas Bishopp whose descendants lived there until 1922 when it was sold to Clive and Alicia Pearson. Renovation work then commenced with great care and attention. During the Second World War, evacuee children and Canadian soldiers lived in part of the house and in 1948 it was opened to the public.

Lesley’s slides showed pictures of some of the rooms in the house, which display important artwork and embroidery from the Stuart period.

Photo of a room in Parham House displaying important Stuart artwork.

Five full time gardeners are employed, with one whose sole job is to supply flowers to the house. Four ladies change the flowers twice a week and the arrangements are done the ‘Parham’ way to harmonise with the colours in the rooms.

Photo of impressive floral arrangement.

Lesley’s love of Parham House and Gardens was obvious to all and no doubt many members were encouraged to consider a visit to Parham House if they had not already been.

Photo of bench in beautiful flower bed.

May 2023 - Dale Park.

On a lovely warm, sunny day a group of members and friends made their way to Madehurst for an afternoon visit to Dale Park.

The lady of the house, Mrs Green, welcomed everyone and explained a little of the history of the house and grounds. Due to its elevated position, the view from the house was quite spectacular.

The group were left to wander freely around the delightful gardens with its long borders. A particular feature was a mature and beautiful wisteria planted against an old red brick wall.

Anthony, the gardener was on hand to answer any questions. Tea and cake was served afterwards, on the terrace, where the group could sit and, once again, take in the spectacular views and reflect on a very enjoyable afternoon.

April 2023 - Dangers in the Garden.

At our April meeting Dr Steve Millam gave us a timely talk entitled ‘Dangers in the Garden’ as this is the time of year when most injuries occur. It is estimated that 300,000 people injure themselves in the garden each year and Steve highlighted the most common risks. Accidents with lawn mowers, flower pots, hedge trimmers and secateurs topped the list and although gardening is good exercise, muscle strain is the most common injury. He particularly encouraged us to use appropriate ladders for reaching up into trees and hedges!

Photograph of man mowing grass with warning stamped on it (the photo, not the grass).

Steve went on to explain the reasons why accidents happen and these are usually due to people taking shortcuts, a lack of skill or training and being ignorant of the risks. He advised that everyone wear gloves whilst working in the garden and make sure their tetanus jabs are up to date.

With an informative slide show Steve showed us some of the dangers and hazards that can be avoided with some thought and care. These included locking chemicals away, emptying paddling pools, avoiding trip hazards and not gardening in icy or slippery conditions. The RHS website has some very useful information and Steve encouraged us all to ENJOY OUR GARDENING..

March 2023 - Photographing Your Garden.

There was a good turnout to hear Mark Saunders of Fittleworth House talk about taking photographs in the garden.

Mark informed us that he was not a professional photographer but had taken thousands of garden photographs which, with modern technology, could easily be shared with people all around the world. He advocated carrying a camera or smart phone at all times to catch the moment when inspiration strikes. It was not necessary, he said, to have an expensive camera to take good photos. It's not what you have but what you do with it!

Demonstration photographs.

Displaying a wonderful slide show of some of his beautiful and unusual pictures and using a 10 point strategy he explained how we could all take better photos.

Mark gave us lots of ideas and encouraged us all to get inspired when photographing the garden.

February 2023 - The Woodland Trust.

At our first meeting of 2023 Dr Susan Davies, a volunteer for The Woodland Trust, gave us a very interesting and informative talk entitled 'Standing Up for Trees'. The Woodland Trust was founded in 1972 in Devon by Kenneth Watkins, who had become concerned at the loss of the country's natural habitat.

With some wonderful slides, Susan explained why we all need trees and that the UK is now one of the least wooded countries in Europe, with only 13% of tree cover. Thousands of miles of hedgerows have been removed and we are not planting enough trees to replace those lost. Ancient woodlands are irreplaceable.

Forest in winter.

The mission of the Woodland Trust is to make the UK rich in native woods and trees. She explained that they work with local authorities and schools and have planted 50 million trees in the past 50 years.

Some of the Woodland Trust's successful projects have been the saving of Fairy Glen and the creating and planting of the new Northern Forest.

Photo of forest trees.

The Woodland Trust has 3,000 volunteers who are people from all walks of life. They have various jobs including looking out for signs of tree disease. A tree charter was established in 2017 to raise awareness of the plight of trees.

Susan informed us that there was lots of information on The Woodland Trust's website we could all access.

Woodland Trust logo.

December 2022 - Julie from ‘Buds and Blooms’

At the club’s last meeting of the year, Julie from ‘Buds and Blooms’ East Preston came along and gave a demonstration on how to make Christmas decorations using foliage from garden plants.

She first made a wreath using a wire frame onto which she tied moss. She then made little bunches of foliage from plants which included blue spruce and ivy. These were then tied onto the frame to complete the wreath which was finished off with baubles and bows fixed into place.

Wreath made with garden foliage.

Julie then showed the audience how to make a table candle decoration using an oasis container. She attached cocktail sticks to the bottom of the candle with sellotape so it could be pushed into the oasis. Assorted foliage was then secured into the oasis around the candle. Pine cones, ribbon and flowers were added to complete the table decoration.

Candle table decoration.

A hand-tied bouquet was Julie’s next demonstration. For this she used a white rose as a centrepiece and added various flowers and foliage including gerberas (wired), alstroemerias, carnations and pittosporum. Having wrapped the bouquet, she then created a water bubble using cellophone and placed the display in a gift bag.

Julie’s final demonstration was to show the audience how to make a bow, which everyone was encouraged to copy. This turned out to be not as easy as Julie made it look!

Lucky raffle prize winners were able to take Julie’s creations home with them.

The evening was finished off with some festive fare and a final raffle.

November 2022 - Ben Cross of Crosslands Flower Nursery

There was a change to the programme at November’s meeting. The speaker booked for the evening was unable to attend and Ben Cross of Crosslands Flower Nursery, Warburton agreed to come and speak to us. The title of his talk was “Alstroemerias and the Cut Flower Industry”.

Ben started by telling the members the history of the nursery. In 1934 the Land Settlement Association (LSA), a UK government scheme, was set up to resettle workers from depressed industrial areas. The settlements were set up in rural areas, grouped in communities with the purpose of running market gardens. Ben’s great grandfather came south to the community set up at Sidlesham to run a nursery. In 1957 they moved to Warburton. Crosslands Flower Nursery grows alstroemerias for the cut flower market.

Alstroemeria photo.

It was obvious from the start that Ben is committed to sustainability and explained how the nursery runs without the use of chemicals and pesticides. Water and heating are used economically. Alstroemerias are a ‘cool crop’, the optimum temperature being 13 degrees. They pride themselves of getting their flowers from soil to storage in under 5 minutes. The flowers (in recyclable boxes) are sold locally to markets, farm shop, florists and restaurants and have a low carbon footprint unlike the 90%of flowers imported to the UK.

Ben’s talk was both interesting and thought provoking.

Alstroemeria photo.

October 2022 - AGM

Our AGM marked the 1st anniversary of meeting at our new venue of St Angmering Baptist Church, a move which was unanimously welcomed.

The AGM went smoothly and a number of new officers were elected to the Committee, including a new Vice Chair and a new Meetings Organiser.

There was a social following the business of the evening. Members tested their horticultural knowledge with a quiz and enjoyed a buffet.

September 2022 - Woolbeding Gardens, Midhurst

There was a good turnout for the talk given by Paul Gallivan, head gardener/garden manager of Woolbeding Gardens, Midhurst.

Paul explained the history of the mid 16th century property which was eventually handed to the National Trust in 1957. Lord Simon and his life partner, Stewart Grimshaw took it on lease because they fell in love with the view from the house.

The 30 acre garden is a 20th/21st century garden rather than an historic one and Paul maintains the gardens with a team of 8 full time gardeners and a small army of volunteers.

There are different areas to the garden and these include a swimming pool garden with an orangery, a herb garden, vegetable garden and fountain garden. The main borders are colour themed, generally with a palette of calm colours such as blues, purples, soft yellows and white. There are many seats and benches in the garden as well as a thatched hermit hut, summer house and a lake with a Chinese bridge.

The garden is constantly changing and evolving and the latest project, almost complete, is the construction of a glass house, the roof of which opens up like a flower. It is 15 metres wide and 15 metres tall and cost approximately 10 million pounds.

The gardens were opened to the public in 2011. They can only be visited on Thursdays and Fridays between April and September and tickets must be booked in advance. Around 10,000 people now visit them every year. Judging by the beautiful slides shown by Paul it is not difficult to see why .

Photo of Woolbeding Gardens.
Photo of Woolbeding Gardens.

July 2022 - Carnivorous plants

20 people attended to listen to Don Fitzgerald talk about carnivorous plants. After 2 cancelled meetings it was 3rd time lucky and worth waiting for.

There are 5 basic forms of carnivorous plant: trap, pitcher, flypaper, snap, bladder and lobster pot. They are all hugely fascinating. Don had several examples with him and was able to show us how they work - and also their captured prey in a dead tuber which he removed from one plant. Pretty gruesome!

These are very beautiful plants to look at and, Don assured us, very easy to grow. We were not all convinced! However Don did have some plants for sale and several people were tempted.

Don later told us that he had donated the proceeds of these sales to the Demelza charity (a hospice for children).

Certainly a fascinating evening.

Carnivorous plants.
Carnivorous plants.

May 2022 - Champs Hill

On Wednesday 18th May our members enjoyed an afternoon visit to NGS garden Champs Hill, in Pulborough, a beautiful local garden run by the Bowerman Trust, which promotes classical music and art.

The visit included tea and cake and a visit to the current exhibition in the music room.

(Click photos for full size versions.)

Champs Hill garden photo.
Champs Hill garden photo.
Champs Hill garden photo.
Champs Hill garden photo.
Champs Hill garden photo.
Champs Hill garden photo.

Monday 4th April 2022 - Lordington Lavender

Another good turnout for this month's talk by Andrew Elms of Lordington Lavender.

Andrew regaled us about the trials and tribulations of running a lavender farm.

The farm grows arable crops and had a dairy herd until 2000, when Andrew decided to try a new venture, selling the herd and moving to lavender.

Conservation is very much at the heart of the enterprise. He still grows arable crops of conservation grade - cereals for Jordans, wheat and malting barley and oilseed rape for biofuel. There are also wildflower crops for the wildlife.

But Andrew's passion is now for lavender. He started out in 2002 with 5 acres and, having ordered a supply of Mailettle plants (a French variety of English lavender) to cover his 5 acres, was shocked to take delivery of 25,000 plants! It took his family and friends a week to plant using an old cabbage planter belonging to a neighbour.

The first harvest was cut 2 years later and from initially selling just the essential oil, the business now produces a wide range of products including soap, lip balm, shampoo, hand cream and dog shampoo.

The environmental conservation initiatives have resulted in nesting barn owls, masses of insects, butterflies and bees and 12 red listed species of birds.

The lavender farm is open to the public for 1 week in July, just prior to harvesting, when the lavender is at its very best.

A field of lavender.
A field of lavender.

Monday 7th March 2022 - Rewilding at Knepp

42 people eagerly awaited Penny Green's talk about the rewilding of Knepp. After 2 previous postponements it was certainly worth the wait.

Knepp is 3500 acres of weald clay with hundreds of laggs (water meadows) which had been intensively farmed for over 200 years by the Burrell family. When the present owner, Charlie Burrell, took over at the age of 21 he continued this tradition. Then, 20 years ago, it became clear that this was not a sustainable or productive use of the land and the idea of rewilding was born.

It began with different areas of the land being systematically taken out of production and slowly the vegetation started to grow wild, trees took hold and as more animals were introduced it transpired that the billowing hedgerows protected the new saplings from being eaten by the large herbivores. The reintroduction began with fallow deer and moved on to long horned cattle (cattle closely related to ancient breeds), Tamworth pigs, red deer and Exmoor ponies. These large herbivores are nature's chainsaws! There was no longer any need to prune or clear the vegetation. The nature of their grazing produces a perfect habitat for many other creatures and drives the wilding of the landscape

Man acts as the apex predator as wolves are no longer present and cattle, pigs and deer are culled to provide income for the project.

There are now over 3,000 species recorded at Knepp of which 1800 are insects. Major successes have seen the huge growth in numbers of nightingales, turtle doves, and purple emperor butterflies. Owls, 17 species of bat, ravens, 62 species of bee and 30 of wasps. The list goes on. The recent reintroduction of storks has seen them breeding in the UK for the first time for hundreds of years. Beavers have also been a recent addition and, although the first attempt was unsuccessful, it is hoped that they will be brought back to Knepp in the near future.

This was a fascinating and informative talk and we all went away keen to visit the Knepp estate soon.

Knepp slideshow intoduction image.
Turtle doves slide, 82% decline 10 10 years.

Monday 7th February 2022 - The Secret Life of a Hedgehog

34 people attended the first meeting of 2022 to hear Graham Bowring tell us about the secret life of hedgehogs. He brought along one of the rescued hedgehogs currently in his care, 'Harry' was a little grumpy, but nevertheless very engaging!

Graham gives most of his talks to schoolchildren, however, we declined his invitation to sit around in a circle on the floor. Graham has been a member of the Hedgehog Preservation Society for many years. He has permission to look after hedgehogs and to release them back into the wild, under strict regulations. He is caring for 15 at present. At the height of the foot and mouth crisis in 2001 he had 120!

Graham amused us with several tales of calls from the public regarding hedgehogs thought to be in peril. He also told us that hedgehogs are nocturnal (if they are out in the daytime they are probably unwell). They have around 5000 spikes, hibernate for around 4 months in the winter, can walk about 2 miles a night looking for food or a mate and are solitary animals.

Most hogs killed on the road are males, out looking for females. After mating the males leave and the female has her litter of 2-7 babies after 3 and a half weeks. The hoglets will leave their mother after about 6 weeks. One litter a year is usual but sometimes a second litter can be born in the autumn. However, in this case the hoglets will be unlikely to survive as they will not be fat enough to hibernate.

All too soon it was time to say goodbye to Graham and Harry, after a very entertaining evening.

Graham Bowring with Harry the Hedgehog.
Harry the Hedgehog.

6th December 2021 - Paul Abbot

For our December meeting, old friend of Angmering HC, Paul Abbot, came along to talk about 'Christmas plants around the world' and regaled us with some of the myths, legends and folklore surrounding the plants that are traditional in different parts of the world.

We are all familiar with the holly and the ivy of a European Christmas, along with the traditional amarylis, poinsettia and, of course, the Christmas Tree, commonly seen in Britain. But the New Zealand Christmas tree, or Pohutukawa, is not so well known!

There are many slightly eccentric traditions also, including the Mexican Radish Festival! And wheat is traditionally used in Eastern Europe for Christmas decorations. Mostly the plants used are associated with rebirth and renewal, so coming out of the darkness of winter into the spring - something we are all looking forward to.

A very interesting talk was followed by mince pies, Christmas cake and a glass of fizz.

December 2021 meeting room.

1st November 2021 – Lesley Baker 'Out on a Limb'

Lesley is a locally based tree surgeon and entertained us tonight with tales of her working life. From her somewhat unusual choice of career - there were not many females in the business when Lesley started - to some of the more interesting and quite hilarious situations that she has found herself in while tending to local trees.

It is a difficult and dangerous job - as witnessed by some of the equipment Lesley demonstrated to us. For example, 'Big Mary' is a huge chainsaw which many of us would struggle to pick up, never mind wield in anger at a mature tree!

After coffee Lesley engaged us in a game of 'match the tree', giving out logs, pictures of leaves and names of trees which we had to match up. I'm pleased to say that most of us got at least some of the answers correct!

Lesley Baker up a tree.

4th October 2021 – Martin Jarvis

After a very long interval we were all happy to restart our meetings today, in a new venue and on a new day. Much has changed since March 2020!

That last meeting was almost hijacked by the speaker being unable to attend due to a bereavement. On that occasion Martin Jarvis, a long time member of the group and local nurseryman, stepped into the breach. And once again this evening, we are indebted to Martin who has come to our rescue after our speaker fell ill.

Following our much delayed AGM, Martin spoke about his life in horticulture. From the influence of Rudolf Steiner, a notable proponent of biodynamic farming and organic, holistic gardening, on his grandparents and parents, through his own career, which culminated in his running the family business today.

Culberry Nursery began as an 8 acre site in Dappers Lane in 1948, growing mushrooms. Today it is 4 acres and specialises in herbs, both culinary and medicinal and stocks about 200 varieties. Martin also sells farm produce and so was able to remain open during the lockdowns of the last 2 years. This was a boon to business and turnover increased 3 fold! Things have settled down now and life is not quite so hectic at Culberry!

Martin brought along many of the plants that he produces and talked about their uses. A good many of these were snapped up at the end of the evening.

Our new venue.
Martin Jarvis.
Plants for sale.

4th February 2020 – Paul Dalby

33 people, including several visitors welcomed Paul Dalby, an expert in the growing, exhibiting and judging of dahlias. He has exhibited dahlias since 1991.

Paul told us how dahlias originated in Mexico where 47 species have now been identified in the wild. They were brought to Europe by the Spanish in the 18th century, originally as a food source.

The National Dahlia Society directory now lists 15 classifications of dahlia, including pompom, ball cactus, star and decorative, and very many more varieties within the classes. Paul recommends propagating from cuttings, taken in the early spring when the tubers begin to sprout. He explained how to produce perfect stems for exhibiting – quite a performance! We will probably stick to growing as many (possible not perfect) blooms of this beautiful flower instead.

Paul Dalby.
Types of Dahlias.
Dahlias in bloom.

3rd December 2019 – Christmas flower arrangements

For our December meeting we had a Christmas theme. Mince pies and Christmas cake followed an inspiring demonstration of Christmas flower arrangements by Julie Waters from Bud & Blooms in East Preston.

Julie stepped in at the last minute to save the day after our original speaker couldn’t make it, and she showed us how to make a Christmas wreath, a table decoration with candles and a small table arrangement using all the left over odds and ends! - nothing was wasted.

It all looked remarkably easy – years of practice! But I’m sure some of us will have had a go at our own decorations.

Christmas wreath.
Christmas wreath.
Christmas decoration.

5th November 2019 – Maggie Haynes

Maggie came to talk to us about the Tuppenny Barn. From an unlikely background of many years in the army, Maggie started up the Tuppenny Barn in 2005.

What began as a derelict field with barn (the original barn is now a tool shed) is now the Tuppenny Barn Education Centre (TBE), a UK registered charity, whose purpose is to advance education in horticulture and sustainability.

At the heart of Tuppenny Barn’s approach is the promotion of sustainable living in all its forms. They are passionate about food and knowing where our food comes from.

They host school trips, after school clubs, and horticultural therapy sessions, and also provide educational activities for the wider community, promoting growing and cooking abilities, alongside countryside skills like foraging, wreath making and willow weaving.

The Education Centre has been designed using sustainable principles and provides a beautiful space for meetings, community and music events, art exhibitions and special occasions like weddings.

The shop, open every Thursday and Friday sells the fresh organic fruit, vegetables and cut flowers grown on site as well as bread, preserves, cakes and more.

Tuppeny Barn Centre Build June 2014.
Tuppeny Barn Centre exterior.

1st October 2019 – Architectural Plants

Guy Watts, managing director and co-owner of Architectural Plants in Pulborough, talked to us about the development of this very special nursery. Guy has had an interesting life before becoming a partner in this business – including rowing across the Indian Ocean (for which he holds the record) and also starting the charity ‘Streetscape’.

Guy told us about the various ways in which, mainly large, architectural plants can be used in our gardens, with some spectacular slides to illustrate this.

Everyone enjoyed the talk and many of us are looking forward to visiting the nursery.

Guy was followed by our 2nd, very successful, ‘bring & buy’ sale.

Guy Watts.
Wollemia nobilis.

3rd September 2019 – Trip to Sir Harold Hillier Garden, Romsey

27 of us set off to Romsey on Tuesday morning to visit the Harold Hillier Gardens. The day was enjoyed by all and the weather was largely kind to us, despite 1 or 2 heavy showers.

Rainy day.

The gardens were stunning, with far too much to see in one visit. The long borders were especially lovely with many varieties of perennial looking at their best.

Harold Hiller Garden.

The trees, lakes, hydrangeas and so much else to see, another visit will be a must for many of us.

We all had time to try the café, shop and garden centre – and several bargains were snapped up!

Harold Hiller Garden.
Harold Hiller Garden.
Harold Hiller Garden.

2nd July 2019 – Steve Porter

Steve spoke about the role of horticulture in the rehabilitation of offenders at Ford Prison.

He told us that up to 90 offenders are involved in Land Based Activities, and horticulture is a major part of this. It includes looking after the grounds of the prison as well as running a commercial horticulture business which provides an income for use in other areas of the prison.

Although at times it is a challenge to get the offenders to engage, the business provides plants of all types to up to a 100 other prisons in the UK plus it also provides 440 thousand summer and winter bedding to prisons in the SE region! and has a contract to supply bedding to Haywards Heath Town Council. And there is a shop where we can all go and try the fruits of their labours.

Altogether, a very impressive operation and an interesting talk.

HMP Ford sign.
HMP Ford wall.
HMP Ford garden.

18th June 2019 – Open Gardens

10 members volunteered to open their gardens to the rest of the club.

Sadly, on this occasion, the weather was not on our side, with persistent rain throughout the day.

A few hardy souls braved the elements and enjoyed the gardens, albeit they were not seen quite at their best.

On the following Monday, those members that had opened were able to visit each other’s gardens, and this was more successful, with fine, warm weather prevailing.

Many thanks to those members who opened and to those who made the effort to support them.

Let’s hope we have better luck next year!

Hidcot Lavender.
Long border in Flower.
June's 3 tier planter.

4th June - visit to NGS garden

15 members enjoyed a visit to Plantation Rise, the long standing NGS and award winning garden of Trixie and Nigel.

After a day of showers we were fortunate that the sun shone for a couple of hours and it was a lovely evening. Trixie showed us around and produced wonderful homemade cakes, which were enjoyed under the arbour.

This is an inspirational garden, full of colour and intriguing ideas – some of which, I am sure, will be copied in Angmering!

Plantation Rise.
Plantation Rise.

7th May - AGM

The AGM was held at the Village Hall. All the current Committee stood again and were re-elected for a further year.

Membership stood at 44 at the end of the year.

The necessary business was concluded within half an hour and was followed by a sociable hour of food, drink and a couple of quizzes, which were enjoyed by all.

2nd April 2019 – Steve Millam

32 people were present to listen to Steve tell us about the importance of soil in horticulture.

Steve has been the head of the horticulture department at Brinsbury College since 2007 and gained many years of experience prior to his return to West Sussex. He told us about how soil is formed, the important minerals, micro-organisms and bacteria it contains and how to keep the soil healthy.

Steve explained that soil is made up of sand, silt and clay and the proportions of each dictate the type of soil. It is crucial that organic matter is added to revitalise the soil and this should not be dug in but just laid on the top – a welcome bit of advice for gardeners!

Everyone went home a little wiser and with a little more respect for this most mundane of garden features.


5th February 2019 – Geoff Hawkins

Geoff Hawkins.

Geoff Hawkins spent 35 years as head gardener at the private garden, Mill Court, near Alton. On Tuesday he spoke at the Angmering Horticultural Club, in Angmering Village Hall, about the benefits of ground cover - essential in order to minimise the necessity for weeding and a must for all gardeners.

Geoff told us about the different types of ground cover including mulches of all varieties – e.g. bark, gravel, grass clippings and sheep’s wool - as well as the innumerable variety of plants that can be used. Not only low growing and spreading plants, but large shrubs which can cover an area of ground and trees such as the Acer which have a drooping habit and therefore will cover a substantial area of ground, preventing weeds from growing.

Geoff was interesting and a well informed speaker and everyone went away with a few new ideas to help reduce the amount of time they spend weeding.

4th December 2018 – ‘Deck the Halls’

Local florist Ellen Ford – ‘The Enchanted Florist’ came along tonight to demonstrate how to decorate the home for Christmas using garden materials. This was Ellen’s inaugural speaking engagement and although she was nervous we were all definitely ‘enchanted’.

Ellen’s decorations were original and exciting, but could most certainly be attempted by any one of us. A Christmas tree made from the off cuts of a large tree was especially inspired!

Ellen kindly donated her creations to our monthly raffle – which boosted the takings significantly!

Enchanted Florist.
Enchanted Florist.


6th November 2018 – Ian Currie

Ian is a well known weather forecaster, journalist and broadcaster. He regularly appears on BBC Sussex radio's 'Dig It' programme.

Tonight he spoke to us about 'Gales, Greenhouses and Global Warning'.

We have all experienced out fair share of problems as gardeners, with all three subjects! And Ian was able to explain how and why many of these problems occur, with his illustrated talk.

Ian Currie.

2nd October 2018 – Peter Chivers

Peter visited us from his home in Portsmouth to talk about preparing containers for winter and spring.

His was an entirely practical demonstration and very entertaining. Peter planted up to three different containers, showing us how he plants his bulbs (in layers) topped with a variety of winter bedding.

Peter was so enthusiastic we had little time left for tea! But a good time was had by all.

Peter Chivers.

4th September 2018 - Jean Griffin

Jean Griffin.

Jean Griffin was eduacated at Neath Girls Grammar School before starting professional horticultural courses, firstly at Studley College in Warwickshire and secondly at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Jean has spent all her life working in both the Amenity and Commercial sections of the horticultural industry, with the past 20 years working in Horticultural Education. Jean teaches people from all age groups and varying abilities. Jean is also a very popular broadcaster – notably on BBC Sussex’s ‘Dig it’ and ably entertained us with tales of her gardening life.

3rd July 2018 Ferring Country Centre

This month Sam Kirk from Ferring Country Centre gave us an insight into the excellent work done at Ferring Country Centre, which provides meaningful work experience to adults with learning difficulties, through riding therapy, horticulture and farming.

The Centre is a charity and has been running for over 30 years enjoying a very well deserved reputation for the work they do with vulnerable adults. It is well worth a visit – they have an excellent garden centre, along with the small animal farm, café and children’s play area.

Despite the low turnout tonight (England were playing in the World Cup!), we all enjoyed Sam’s talk.

Ferring Country Centre.

19th June 2018 - Visit to Peeler’s Retreat

This evening we enjoyed a visit to an NGS open garden in Arundel. ‘Peeler’s Retreat’ has been lovingly developed by retired policeman Tony Gilks and his wife.

It is a garden full of interest, with numerous beautiful plants and shrubs, ‘bonsai’ type trees, a fabulous pond and various sculptures – all home made from recycled wood. And the cakes are something else!

Peeler's Retreat garden.
Peeler's Retreat garden.
Peeler's Retreat garden.

May 2018 – Trip to Eric Wall Tomatoes

This evening we visited Eric Wall’s tomato nursery in Barnham, first established in 1977.

This was a fascinating trip to see how the tomatoes on our supermarket shelves are actually produced. And what an operation it is! Huge greenhouses produce 5 varieties of tomato - the rows of plants run to 33 miles!

All the latest technology is utilised, in an environmentally friendly manner, to produce tomatoes destined for Waitrose and Sainsburys. On a hot evening it was almost unbearable inside the greenhouses – we felt for the people who have to tend these plants and pick tomatoes in this weather!

Paul Faulkner had come to speak to us at a previous meeting and invited us along for a tour of the nursery. He made us very welcome and sent us all home with samples of their lovely produce.

Eric Wall Tomatoes greenhouse.
Eric Wall Tomatoes tomatoes.

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